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Excellent teachers to earn own pay grade

Excellent teachers will be able to qualify for salaries of more than pound;35,000 under a package for senior staff being unveiled next week.

The School Teachers' Review Body has backed plans for an "excellent teachers" grade proposed in an agreement between unions, the Government and employers, The TES has learned.

It is also expected to open the debate on introducing local pay for teachers. The Department for Education and Skills has pressed for the review body to look at regional pay, a concept that will be opposed by the unions.

The details of a package to lure teachers to the capital, giving them chartered London teacher status, will also be revealed.

The excellent teachers' scheme will replace levels four and five of the upper performance pay scale and is expected to benefit only one in five on scale point three (UPS3). London teachers on the new grade will earn in excess of pound;35,000.

Applicants will have been on UPS3 for three years and moving to the next grade will involve some external assessment. The first awards will be in September 2007.

The Government has hailed the pay deal as a further success for its partnership with unions and employers, following the collaboration that led to the teacher workload agreement. Indeed, David Miliband, schools minister, is understood to have led the delegation with union leaders when introducing their joint submission to the review body.

But the impression of unity has already been damaged by claims from a heads' leader that the unions involved were not 100 per cent behind the scheme.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said this week that the scheme was not something that teachers'

organisations viewed with "absolute joy". "It is going to be difficult at the best of times but it is there because the Government wanted it as part of the agreement," he said.

Under the deal there will be enough cash for an estimated 86 per cent of experienced teachers on UPS2 to be able to progress to UPS3 and a salary of pound;31,602.

All the major teaching unions were involved in the agreement, except the National Union of Teachers which has refused to sign up to the concept of performance pay. A teachers' pay deal of 2.5 per cent a year, between April 2004 and August 2006, was agreed by ministers in November.

Helen Hartley, 30, head of drama at Roundhay school, Leeds, said she was worried that the excellent teachers' scheme could lead to more bureaucracy because of the external assessment.

She said: "The Government is supposed to be taking paperwork away from teachers so it is ironic that it is going to give you more so you can progress up the pay scale."

Kim Davis, Roundhay's head of technology, said she doubted it would be possible to differentiate between teachers. "I don't think I would be able to class who is good, very good and excellent," she said.

Some of the 3,500 advanced skills teachers already earn more than pound;35,000. Their pay ranges from pound;29,000 to pound;47,000.

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